Alan Gilbert (conductor)

Alan Gilbert (born February 23, 1967) is an American conductor and violinist. He was most recently music director of the New York Philharmonic (2009-2017),[1][2] and is the principal conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra.

Alan Gilbert
Alan Gilbert, 2016
Born (1967-02-23) February 23, 1967
Upper West Side, Manhattan

Early years

Gilbert was born in New York City[3][4] He is the son of two New York Philharmonic violinists, Michael Gilbert and Yoko Takebe, both now retired from the orchestra. Growing up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Gilbert attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale, where he was a top student. As a youth, he learned the violin, viola, and piano. His sister, Jennifer Gilbert, also studied violin, and became a professional violinist.[5]

In the 1980s, Gilbert studied music at Harvard University, where he was music director of the Harvard Bach Society Orchestra in 1988–89.[6] While in Boston, Gilbert also studied with violinist Masuko Ushioda at the New England Conservatory of Music. After obtaining his degree at Harvard, Gilbert studied conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School of Music with Otto-Werner Mueller. In 1994, he won the Georg Solti prize, which garnered him a week's private tutoring with Maestro Solti. Also in 1994, Gilbert won first prize at the International Competition for Musical Performance in Geneva.

Conducting career

From 1995 to 1997, Gilbert was an assistant conductor with the Cleveland Orchestra. In 1997, he won the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award.[7]

Santa Fe Opera

Gilbert's long association with Santa Fe Opera dates back to 1993, when he served as the orchestra's assistant concertmaster. Prior to that, both of Gilbert's parents played in the opera's orchestra, and his father served as concertmaster for a number of years. In 2001, Gilbert conducted his first Santa Fe Opera production, Verdi's Falstaff. In 2003, he became Santa Fe Opera's first music director. His initial contract concluded at the end of the 2006 season. In November 2006, it was reported that Gilbert was to be on "official sabbatical from June through August 2007" to spend more time with his family.[8] In May 2007, Santa Fe Opera announced that Gilbert had officially concluded his tenure as their music director, as of 2006.[9][10]

New York Philharmonic

Gilbert built much of his reputation conducting contemporary and American music, and his appointment by the Philharmonic marked somewhat of a shift by the orchestra away from his more conservative predecessors Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, and Zubin Mehta.[11] He is the first New York City-born conductor to be named music director of the New York Philharmonic.[12] For his inaugural 2009/10 Philharmonic season, Gilbert introduced a number of new initiatives, including the presence of Composer-in-Residence Magnus Lindberg and Artist-in-Residence Thomas Hampson. The festivals and tours he has introduced include CONTACT – the Philharmonic's new-music series; and a major tour of Asia and the Middle East in October 2009, with debuts in Hanoi and Abu Dhabi. In February 2015, the orchestra announced the scheduled conclusion of Gilbert's tenure as music director at the end of the 2016-2017 season.[1]

Additional work

Gilbert was principal conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra from 2000 to 2008.[12] He now has the title of conductor laureate with the Stockholm ensemble. From 2004 through 2015, he was principal guest conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra. He made his Metropolitan Opera conducting debut in November 2008 with John Adams' opera, Doctor Atomic.[13]

Gilbert is the first person to hold the William Schuman chair in Musical Studies at the Juilliard School. The position includes coaching, conducting, and performance master classes. Gilbert assumed the post in the fall of 2009.

In June 2017, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra (formerly the NDR Symphony Orchestra) announced the appointment of Gilbert as its next chief conductor, effective with the 2019-2020 season, with an initial contract of 5 seasons.[14][15] He had the title of chief conductor-designate from 2017 until his 2019 advent.[16]

Personal life

In 2002, Gilbert married Swedish cellist Kajsa William-Olsson, a member of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. They have three children, Lia, Noemi, and Esra. The family has residences in both New York City and in Sweden.[17]


  1. Cooper, Michael (2015-02-06). "Alan Gilbert to Leave New York Philharmonic in 2017". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-02-06.
  2. Michael Cooper (2017-05-30). "Alan Gilbert Wanted to Save the New York Philharmonic. What Happened?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  3. Daniel J. Wakin (2007-07-19). "A Son of the Orchestra Returns as Music Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
  4. Anthony Tommasini (2007-07-19). "Philharmonic Opts for Generation Next". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
  5. Anne Midgette (2004-05-20). "A Son of the Philharmonic, Now a Father and a Conductor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  6. Harvard Bach Society Orchestra (2009). "Past Music Directors". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  7. Allan Kozinn (1997-10-23). "An Award Liberates Two More Conductors". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  8. "Q&A: Conductor Alan Gilbert, Caught Between Opera and Symphonic Work (And Loving It)". Playbill Arts. 2006-11-18. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  9. Matthew Westphal (2007-05-08). "Alan Gilbert Steps Down as Music Director of Santa Fe Opera". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  10. Anne Constable, "Santa Fe Opera music director steps down". The New Mexican, 2007-05-07.
  11. Tim Page (2007-07-19). "Alan Gilbert to Lead New York Philharmonic". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  12. Daniel J. Wakin (2007-10-07). "Forged in Sweden, Bound for New York". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  13. Anthony Tommasini (2008-10-14). "Faust Unleashing a Destroyer of Worlds". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  14. "Alan Gilbert ab 2019/20 neuer Chefdirigent des NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchesters" (Press release). NDR. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  15. Michael Cooper (2017-06-23). "Alan Gilbert to Lead NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in Hamburg". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  16. "Alan Gilbert named Chief Conductor of Hamburg's NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra". Gramophone. 2017-06-23. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  17. Alex Vadukul (2010-07-16). "Bagels and Books (and a Few Scores)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Andrew Davis and Paavo Järvi
Principal Conductor, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
Sakari Oramo
Preceded by
John Crosby (de facto principal conductor)
Music Director, Santa Fe Opera
Succeeded by
Kenneth Montgomery (interim music director)
Preceded by
Thomas Hengelbrock
Chief Conductor, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Succeeded by
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